The Good Girl review by The Grim Ringler

The Good Girl

The Good Girl, set in a sort of Mid-Western part of Texas it would seem, is the story of Justine, a woman just out of her twenties and living a life she despises. Her husband is a nice enough oaf but is a chronic pothead and seems to be perpetually seated on the couch with his buddy watching TV after work. Justine works at the Retail Rodeo, a discount store that seems to sell a little bit of everything, and all with the same indifferent vigor. It’s as if Justine is in Purgatory and is just waiting for release. Release seems to come to her in the form of Holden, a sullen co-worker with an obsession for The Catcher In The Rye whom she starts to talk to and feels she has made a connection with. Holden and Justine are both outcasts, feeling that no one knows them, perhaps even themselves, and fearing every moment in life because it’s so monotonous. Drawn to him, Justine (Jennifer Aniston) and Holden (Jake Gyllenhall) begin a passionate love affair that begins for Justine as a game, as something fun and secret, something to break her from her monotony, but that becomes something vile as she begins to feel her husband’s friend has seen them as they left a motel. Faced with the guilt of her cheating, and fearing what she feels (indeed THAT she feels suddenly, which is more of a ‘cheat’ than the sex of her relationship with Holden) she puts distance between she and ‘Holden’ (who she finds is named Tom, but feels that is a ‘slave name’), who begins to melt down. So Justine is now forced to decide, does she stay with her husband, who is a sweet guy but has no ambition, drive, or passion, or does she go with Holden, who is emotionally unstable but that presents her with all the passion she’s been bereft of for so long?

While slow and a bit predictable at spots, this is a pretty good film. Aniston and Gyllenhall are tremendous as two people drawn to the sadness and loneliness in each other and the film examines beautifully how trapped and desperate these characters are. And I like that there are no answers given, either right or wrong, just consequences, and that the characters must find their own way out of their Hell…or not. The film is well shot and directed and the acting is wonderful from top to bottom, the other standouts being John C. Reilly as Justine’s husband, and Tim Blake Nelson as his friend. There is a deep feeling of dread that permeates the film and gives everything an eerie feel, as if all of these are real people, damned to suburbia and all of them unhappy but unable to change how they feel. But as much as you feel for the characters, you never really pity any of them because they are in cages of their own making and none seem to have the strength or determination to save themselves. Sadly the movie undermines itself in a couple of the plot ‘twists’ and it seems as if it is trying too hard to be sort of darkly clever, and perhaps even funny seeing as this is almost a comedy, and that hurts the overall film. I still think there is enough humor in this world, this movie, without having to go where the writer did, but then everything else is so well done that the film is still enjoyable to see.

Not necessarily a movie I’d recommend buying, this is a definite rental and has some neat extras. The film has several deleted scenes, some bloopers (which are never as funny as you’d think they would be), and a neat idea that seems to be popping up in more releases where Aniston does a mini-commentary during certain scenes in the film, giving her insight into it all.

Overall a very good, though far from great, film and a very melancholy look at melancholia. If for no other reason, this is a good film to see because of the wonderful acting on display, acting which didn’t get near as much press, as it deserved.


7 out of 10 Jackasses

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